The Camp Fire burned through the Sierra Nevada hills with unprecedented fury for two weeks in late 2018. The cause of the state’s deadliest fire to date was determined to be faulty electrical equipment owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The embattled and bankrupt utility faces civil suits regarding damages caused by this fire. Still, it now pleads guilty of 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for deaths caused by the fire and one felony count of unlawfully causing the fire. The second count addresses severe injuries to a firefighter and others as well as the destruction of multiple structures.
It’s hard to imagine that a $1.7 billion settlement was considered lenient. But such was the case in California when power regulators previously agreed to that number in December of 2019 as the amount of compensation owed by the now-bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for its part in igniting the wildfires that year.
The school board for the Los Angeles Unified school district has four of its seats up for grabs in a pivotal election in 2020. The other three seats are uncontested, but veteran watchers believe that two of the four races are extremely competitive. The state’s largest school district with 600,000 students hosts a primary on March 3, where 50% vote can win the seat outright. If no candidate breaks that threshold, there would be a runoff in November. The new board will convene in December
The damage and loss of life caused by wildfires is a serious concern for most here in California (and, of course, our neighbors across the Pacific in Australia). This has led to some soul searching about the risks, including utilities since the now-bankrupt PG&E and others' power lines were determined to be a significant contributor to the fires over the last decade.
It has become clear in recent years that local governments, its agencies, and other large organizations are the targets of hackers launching ransomware. It starts with a suspicious email that is opened, but soon the hackers have encrypted files and locked down the computer networks of townships, local governments, law enforcement, and even hospitals. Frequently, the only way to regain control of the computer system is to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin, which is difficult to trace back to the criminals.
Strikes can turn into long, drawn-out affairs where causing collateral damage is more common than addressing the actual issues in the dispute. Thus, it was refreshing to see the University of California Board of Regent’s swift response to a 26,000 UC Service and Patient Care workers, who launched an unfair labor practice strike on November 13, 2019. This was the third one-day strike in a year where the union alleged that there was illegal outsourcing of UC jobs to contractors.
Most employers are aware of sick leave rules that went into effect in 2015 as part of the California Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act. However, some may not be aware that several cities have their own paid sick leave requirements. Under California law, all but a few employers must allow their workers to use 24 hours or up to three days of sick leave in 12 months.
Californians are used to earthquakes and tremors, but the recent 6.4 and subsequent 7.1 quakes are enough to serve as a wake-up call that the long-dreaded “big one” could still strike. The state is paying attention to the signs and has ordered more than $16 million to install thousands of quake detecting sensors all around the state. The idea is that this equipment would provide precious seconds of advance notice that would allow public utilities and services to shut down before the quake hits.
The beleaguered Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power utility has been blamed for power lines and business practices causing massive fires here in California. While it filed for bankruptcy protection in January, the company has announced that it will pay $1 billion to 14 municipal agencies and jurisdictions to help rebuild.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is being held responsible for the California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, which has led to the utility giant to declare bankruptcy. In light of this development, San Francisco city officials are the option of taking over PG&E or parts of it. The city believes this would reduce the cost of power delivery, improve reliability and continue the sustainability goals it has set for itself. It would also avoid reliance upon the embattled utility whose future is far from certain.